12 Days of Christmas Music That Isn’t Awful (Day 12)

I have saved my favorite for last.

Straight No Chaser may be the first a cappella group to have signed with a major recording label.  These guys started singing together in college back in the 90s and have been doing it ever since.  They’ve managed to make a career out of singing, even all these years later.  And next month, one of these guys (Mike) is going to become my cousin-in-law when he marries my cousin Zoë.  Yay!  They make an adorable couple.

This video is how she introduced him to the family — well, those of us in the extended family who didn’t live in the same part of the country as they did.  (That includes me.)

If you’ve been keeping up with this series, thank you.  Happiest of holidays.  🙂

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Traveling…

Hello, awesome readers.  I’m traveling this week but wanted to give you something super wonderful to watch to tide you over till my return.  It’s a video of Victoria Love and Sarah Golden at the Elle Acoustique show in April at the House of Blues in Houston.  That was such an amazing night!  The next EA show is July 5th.  Cheers!

Victoria Love and Sarah Golden doing Gotye cover

Good for Your Karma

This week, I want to give a nod to some projects and blogs I think are really worthwhile and deserve more attention.  Please click on the links below and check these out!

Brown Girl Magazine

http://browngirlmagazine.com/

The person who writes the “Dear Seema Aunty” column is a friend of mine, and really insightful.  I believe the magazine targets young women of any ethnicity, in the way that the Human Condition makes all struggles relatable to all people.

Pluck Magazine

http://www.pluckmagazine.com

This is a great online magazine that’s been around for maybe a year or so.  I was published in it back in September, a brief personal narrative about my arranged marriage.  Here’s the link to that:  http://www.pluckmagazine.com/articles/article_jamail_01.php

Victoria Love’s New Album

Yeah, I know, you’ve heard about her on my blog before.  There are two main reasons I’m passionate about this project:  first, I love the music; second, Victoria Love is my sister.  🙂  Love’s Kickstarter page is up and taking pledges; they start at $1, and she’s offering great rewards.  She also needs to raise a lot of money in the next few weeks for the project to be funded.  Can she do it?  Will it happen??  Ooh, it’s a nail-biter!  😉

Here’s the Kickstarter page:  http://kck.st/twBUzl

And here’s the review I wrote of her EP:  http://wp.me/p1MOqK-1q

You can hear some of her music on her website:  http://www.victorialovemusic.com

Pass it on!

Soap.  You Know, the Fancy Kind.

http://www.soapier.com/

The tag line says it all:  “Life’s dirty.  Get Soapier.”

These little cakes of cleanliness are well-made and super fragrant, they lather beautifully and look even better next to your sink, and they make excellent gifts.  Plus, they’re less expensive than fancy soaps in a boutique for the exact same product.

The website is not flashy and exciting, but the blog is current, and you can Like them on Facebook.

Some Blogs I’m Following

Here are some interesting and insightful blogs and artists you might enjoy.

you do doodle too:  http://udodoodle2.wordpress.com/

Paula Billups, Painter (gallery and blog):  http://www.paulabillups.com

Babette Fraser Hale, author:  http://www.blogger.com/profile/16801971149305731956

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Thank you, everyone, for your attention.

Victoria Love “Just Breathes” New Energy into a Long-Admired Music Career with Latest EP

I’m not a singer-songwriter, but listening to Victoria Love’s new EP makes me wish I were.

The cover of "Just Breathe" features Victoria Love herself.

Imagine taking Arabic rhythms and then twisting them slightly to the side.  Now fill the space with gothic-friendly vocals and a host of stringed instruments.  Give lyrics with familiar and relatable themes:  redemptive love, righteous indignation, artistic passion.  What you’ll find when the dust settles is Just Breathe, a haunting five-track disc that will make you want more even if this isn’t the sort of music you normally listen to.

Ever since I got this disc, I’ve been listening to it over and over.  It’s been on rotation in my car so often that I think my kids are starting to learn the words.  But I’ve also seen Victoria Love live in concert, many times over the years — the monthly Elle Acoustique show at the House of Blues in Houston is her brain-child — and one thing that I really like about Just Breathe is that the record complements the energy of the live performance, rather than the disc and the live show trying to be copies of each other.  This is refreshing.

One of the tracks, “Yours for the Taking,” begins stealthily.  I knew this song from her live shows for a while before I heard it recorded, and it was a new experience when I popped the disc in.  I thought of Trent Reznor, but not in his usual aspect; now he was being seduced by an industrial/tribal bellydancer.  A temporary situation, because she’d be abandoning him before the end of the song, and even though he’d be affected by it for a long while afterward, he wouldn’t have any regrets.

Maybe I’m letting my imagination run away with me?  I don’t know.  The thing about this music is that the sound is so full, it’s easy to recede into it, to let the layers of instrumentation — including exquisitely supportive violin, cello, bass — pile on top of you while your subconscious plays around with the vocals.  It’s a singularly fun experience to lose yourself in it for a while.

Love has, frankly, a beautiful voice.  And her lyrics have depth, subtlety — just enough to make even a reserved person want to sing along out loud — but there’s nothing obscure about what she’s singing.  The effects on the plugged-in tracks are tasteful, not at all overpowering.  They add to the mood rather than conspicuously announce their presence, a balance which can be difficult for some artists to achieve.  I rather enjoy that the last verse of “Needs” is actually “sung” by an electric guitar, as if the instrument were taking over for the singer.  (When you hear the song, you’ll understand.  In fact, you’ll probably understand a lot.)  The acoustic bonus tracks are a real delight.

If you keep up with my Facebook page, you’ll note that I posted some of her songs there.  I can’t wait for the full-length album.

See videos, hear music clips, buy the EP, and generally find out more about this artist and Elle Acoustique (a non-profit which seeks to promote musical education for women and girls of all ages) on her website:  http://www.VictoriaLoveMusic.com